Gen Z , though still very young, are already workplace adjacent. With their desire to save as much as possible and get an education without also acquiring debt, they freelance from early on. Very tech-savvy and with good self-teaching skills, they can perform rather complex tasks even before they get a degree in a certain field.
Things to consider when training Generation Z
The key to connecting with this young generation is acknowledging who they are and what they bring to the workplace. Their values place them closer to Baby Boomers than to Millennials while their appetite for innovation and technology is unprecedented.
Here are some things HR and L&D professionals ought to consider in dealing with this particularly young digital tribe :
They are true to their values
Gen Z is even more concerned than Millennials with having a very good work-life balance. This desire to integrate their jobs in their personal space is driven by their almost incessant connection on mobile apps and social media.
They will certainly commit and be genuinely engaged with an organization that has an honest and transparently professed mission statement. It has to be politically correct, environmentally aware and promote equality.
Connecting the corporate identity to these well-informed, outspoken individuals who hold strong opinions on pretty much everything requires being able to incorporate corporate training with informal learning and ensuring everything is both digital and engaging – simply transcribing learning material so that it will be accessible online will surely not suffice.
Practicing what you preach is also of the utmost importance as the job descriptions, the trainings and the company objectives need to fall in line with the declared mission.
They love both to collaborate and to compete
Gen Z grew up with technology literally in the palms of their hands. Millennials still remember dial-up internet and have spent their childhood and adolescence using the singular computer in the family room. For the newer generation, internet connection came with a very personal experience as they have always possessed their own device.
This is why they value interaction through social media and as a result appreciate that sense of community and the opportunity to wager in in the construction of corporate identity and culture. They would rather be a part of something that is evolving with them than step into something that is already set and reluctant to transform.
All learning should be social, whether it is on the job or in formal sessions. Furthermore, gamification works wonders with this generation who loves to see their names up on the leaderboards.
Mobility is paramount
This is not a generation that will be spending hours in a library or a training room – unless it’s some event on social media meant to raise awareness about a burning issue that they feel strongly about. That’s why training should follow the learner and not the other way around.
E-learning is their primary preference when it comes to education They are, after all, accustomed to consuming online content whether it is entertaining or informative. The key is finding the right balance between the needs of the learners and organizational goals.
E-learning can be backed up by one to one coaching or hands-on learning where a set of specialized skills is required. Since we are talking about people who have a strong connection to their personal mobile device, it is important that all content may be accessed through it.
Readiness to adapt
Gen Z is still very young and as a result, their adult features are still to be cemented further along. Their inclination towards the online environment is clear, as is their desire to be autonomous.
Most learning platforms already have features that connect learner activity outside the recommended courses. It is the first step in integrating informal learning into formal training. This connectivity has to be perfected so that the platform will manage to function very similarly to all the social media sites that Gen Z is used to – able to filter out irrelevant content, sending notifications and offering an altogether pleasant user experience.
It’s good to also take soft skills into consideration – communication, problem-solving, time and project management are all essential in the modern workplace. Today’s learning technology can really help with developing these skills especially in social learning environments where older employees can act as subject matter experts and share their own experience.
While I personally am very curious what the generation after this one will be like and how it will be called (since Z is the end of the alphabet as we know it), I also think this particular one shows great potential and it will be interesting to see how they transform our world.
Raluca Cristescu is a Faculty of Letters graduate with over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.